Girls beat SV in 2 OT thriller
On a night in which the Salisbury girls basketball team's six seniors were recognized, the Falcons' cross-divisional meeting against Saucon Valley had much on the line.
Both teams would be part of the six-team Colonial League postseason tournament if the season ended today, but both are still looking improve their seeding for the playoffs, which begin on Feb. 7.
Friday's game boded well for the Falcons in that regard.
It turned out that 32 minutes wasn't enough time to decide a winner after the teams were deadlocked at 46-46 after regulation of the senior night contest. The same was evident for the next four minutes as Saucon Valley's Abigail Omdahl forced a second overtime.
When that session began it was all Salisbury, as Lindsay Bauer (22 points) and Kelly Gonoude (17) scored all six points in the sixth and final frame to lead the Falcons (15-3 overall; 10-3 in Colonial League) to a 61-55 victory over the Panthers (13-5 overall; 10-4 in Colonial League).
"With the end of the season here already, we're kind of in limbo," Bauer said. "These last games are really important. To win this game, and to show these other teams coming up that we don't give up easily and that we're going to fight until the end, it's great to be able to pull it through."
The six Falcons that were recognized were: Gonoude, Meagan Eripret, Holly Szita, Jenna Keet, Madison Csondor and Laura Albright.
Salisbury took an early 49-46 lead a minute into the first overtime after Eripret hit one of two free throws and cleaned up a Salisbury miss with a field goal nearly 30 seconds later.
Gonoude then hit four of six free throws down the stretch, but the Panthers tied it at 53-53 with under a minute to play.
Omdahl (25 points) scored on a tough floater while fading out of bounds after driving the length of the court, tying the game at 55 with 7.9 seconds remaining.
The Falcons didn't leave much to chance in the second overtime, however. Gonoude scored the first points of the frame 2:05 in after a layup in transition and added two free throws (her seventh and eighth since regulation) with under a minute to play. Bauer then scored in transition to seal the victory with 36 seconds to play.
"I practice foul shots all the time, and I know I can hit them," Gonoude said. "I just have to have the confidence to make them. Confidence is definitely one of the biggest keys to foul shots."
Salisbury started to pull away early in the fourth quarter after Gonoude's drive on the right baseline made it a 39-32 lead with 6:54 remaining, tied for their largest lead of the game.
But the Panthers responded over the next two minutes, scoring the next 10 points to take a 42-39 lead with 4:38 to play.
"She [Omdahl] was the heart and soul of their team," Bauer said. "We figured if we could shut her down, then we could put the game away. And we just had to relax. I kept telling everyone, 'It's alright. Calm down. We got this.'"
Bauer scored in the final minute of regulation to bring the Falcons to within 45-43, and while Eripret shot just 2-for-11 up until that point, she may have produced the game's biggest play moments later.
On the Panthers' ensuing inbounds play, Eripret got her hand on pass and knocked it off a Saucon Valley player. Seconds later, on the Falcons' own inbounds play, Eripret recorded her first field goal of the fourth quarter with 42.8 seconds remaining that tied the game. She was fouled on the play as well, but unfortunately missed the free throw.
Each team made one of two free throws in the final 40 seconds to force overtime.
Despite a 4-for-14 shooting night and 13 points, Eripret impacted the game by hauling in a game-high 35 rebounds and recording three blocks.
"I think it's just a matter of staying mentally calm," Eripret said. "It's easy to lose yourself when you miss 11 easy layups.
"If anybody has an off day, it's important that they can stay mentally in it so they can keep playing defense, keep getting rebounds and getting everything they missed back for their team."
Salisbury opened the game with a 12-9 lead after the first quarter, and took a 24-20 advantage into halftime. Neither team led by more than seven points in the game; the Falcons led 23-16 on Szita's jumper in the final three minutes of the first half.
The third quarter saw two lead changes and two ties before the Falcons took a 35-32 lead into the fourth.
Bridget O'Donnell also finished in double figures for the Panthers with 10.
Results from Tuesday's game at Palmerton were not available at time of press. The Falcons travel to Palisades on Friday for a 7 p.m. tipoff.